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      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     
Janet

Janet's Log - stardate 2013

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Since I last posted about a book I’d read I have finished the following:

 

Wenceslas, Another Night Before Christmas, Mrs Scrooge, The Christmas Truce (re-read) and Bethlehem, all short, Christmassy books by Carol Ann Duffy, The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, Santa and Pete by Christopher Moore and Pamela Johnson and Rock Crystal by Adalbert Stifter.

 

2013 therefore ends up looking like this:

 

BOOKS READ IN 2013

 

FICTION

Invitation to the Waltz (1932) by Rosamond Lehmann - 3½/5

The Woman in Black (1983) by Susan Hill (re-read) - 4/5

The Descendants (2008) by Kaui Hart Hemmings - 3/5

The Third Miss Symons (1913) by F M Mayor - 3/5

Goodbye, Mr Chips (1934) by James Hilton - 3½/5

The Seance (2008) by John Harwood - 5/5

The Ruins of Time (1993) by Ben Woolfenden - 4½/5

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (2012) by Jonas Jonasson - 2/5

Killer Twist (Ghostwriter Mystery #1) (2011) by C A Larmer - 2/5

House of Evidence (1998) by Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson - 4/5

The Elephant's Journey (2008) by José Saramago - 3/5

Replay (1987) by Ken Grimwood - 5/5

The Diary of a Provincial Lady (1930) by E M Delafield - 4/5

The Life You Want (2009) by Emily Barr - 3/5

Me Before You (2012) by Jojo Moyes - 3/5

Scenes from Village Life (2009) by Amos Oz - 3½/5

The Crimson Petal and the White (2002) by Michel Faber - 5/5

The Widow's Cruise (1959) by Nicholas Blake - 3½/5

Baking Cakes in Kigali (2011) by Gaile Parkin - 4/5

Down the Rabbit Hole (2011) by Juan Pablo Villalobos - 3/5

The President's Hat (2013) by Antoine Laurain - 4/5

The Night Circus (2011) by Erin Morgenstern - 4½/5

The Cuckoo's Calling (2013) by J K Rowling Robert Galbraith - 3/5

The Kraken Wakes (1953) by John Wyndham - 4/5

The Cry (2013) by Helen FitzGerald - 5/5

The Last Runaway (2013) by Tracy Chevalier - 3/5

Midnight Cactus (2013) by Bella Pollen - 4/5

Jamaica Inn (1936) by Daphne Du Maurier - 5/5

My Uncle Silas (1939) by H E Bates - 5/5

On the Black Hill (1982) by Bruce Chatwin - 4/5

Wenceslas (2012) by Carol Ann Duffy - 4/5

Another Night Before Christmas (2005) by Carol Ann Duffy - 4/5

Mrs Scrooge (2009) by Carol Ann Duffy - 3½/5

The Christmas Truce (2011) by Carol Ann Duffy - ( re-read ) 5/5

Bethlehem (2013) by Carol Ann Duffy - 4½/5

Santa and Pete (1998) by Christopher Moore and Pamela Johnson - 3/5

Rock Crystal (1845 - first trans. into English 1945) by Adalbert Stifter - 31.12.13 - 3½/5

 

CLASSICS

Tess of the D'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented (1891) by Thomas Hardy - 5/5

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) by Anne Bronté - 4½/5

Oliver Twist (1838) by Charles Dickens - 5/5

Northanger Abbey (1818) by Jane Austen - 4/5

Summer (1917) by Edith Wharton - 3/4

Emma (1815) by Jane Austen - 5/5

 

CHILDREN'S/YOUNG ADULT FICTION

Petals in the Ashes (2004) by Mary Hooper - 4/5

I, Coriander (2005) by Sally Gardner - 4/5

Wonder (2012) by R J Palacio - 4/5

Newes from the Dead (2008) by Mary Hooper - 4/5

The Magic Finger (1966) by Roald Dahl - 2½/5

The BFG (1982) by Roald Dahl - 3/5

Black Beauty (1877) by Anna Sewell - 4/5

Moondial (1982) by Helen Cresswell - 4/5

The Midnight Palace (2011) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón - 3/3

The Dark is Rising (1973) by Susan Cooper - 5/5

 

NON-FICTION

The Girl from the Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonia Orwell (2002) by Hilary Spurling - 3/5

Estates: An Intimate History (2007) by Lynsey Hanley - 3½/5

Kiskadee Girl (2011) by Maggie Harris - 3½/5

Going Solo (1986) by Roald Dahl - 3/5

A Yorkshire Boyhood (1983) by Roy Hattersley - 4/5

I Can't Stay Long (1975) by Laurie Lee - 3/5

A Child's War (1985) by Molly Bihet - 2½/5

Eskimo Folk-Tales (1921) - stories collected and retold by Knud Rasmussen - 3/5

The Road to Rouen (2013) by Ben Hatch - 2½/5

 

PLAYS

Romeo and Juliet (1500s) by William Shakespeare - 5/5

 

POETRY

-

 

Total read 63

 

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056-2013-Dec-12-Wenceslas.jpg 057-2013-Dec-12-Another Night Before Christmas.jpg 058-2013-Dec-12-Mrs Scrooge.jpg 059-2013-Dec-12-The Christmas Truce.jpg
 

Wenceslas, Another Night Before Christmas, Mrs Scrooge, The Christmas Truce by Carol Ann Duffy

The ‘blurb’
Wenceslas
Beginning with the King’s cook who is preparing a scrumptious Christmas pie, Wenceslas takes us to a medieval feast. The lords and ladies are at their places, the wine is in full flow, the musicians are playing in the gallery and the entertainment has begun. All should be perfect, but when the good King looks up from his table and sees something more than just snow falling deep and crisp and even…

Another Night Before Christmas
It’s the night before Christmas a young girl creeps down the stairs, determined to find out for certain whether Santa is real. But try as she might, she just can’t keep awake and is soon fast asleep…

Mrs Scrooge
Mrs Scrooge is a very modern Christmas tale. Living alone with her cat, Cratchit, Mrs Scrooge worries about the state of the planet. She recycles, buys second-hand, eats leftovers and switches off lights. One night, as midnight sounds, a cheerful ghost takes her by the hand… Brimming with Carol Ann Duffy’s exceptional warmth, humour and imagination and delightfully illustrated by Posy Simmonds, this is the perfect Christmas gift.

The Christmas Truce
Down at the front, on a cold winter’s night in 1914, amidst the worst war the word has ever seen, an inexplicable silence spread from man to man. Belief was in the air. Then the soldiers ceased fire and the magic of Christmas took hold…

Carol Ann Duffy’s brilliant new poem celebrates the miraculous truce between the trenches, when enemy shook hands with enemy, shared songs, swapped gifts, even played football – and peace found a place in No Man’s Land.


For part of my English A Level course in 2007, I studied Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry in her collection The World’s Wife in which she takes famous men from history and from fiction and presents their stories from the point of view of women in their lives. She’s probably best-known as being Britain’s current Poet Laureate, the first woman to hold the position.

These lovely books all contain a Christmassy theme – the ‘blurbs’ say what they’re about so I won’t elaborate, but they are beautifully written stories to put one in a Christmassy mood. I heard a reading of The Christmas Truce which was set to (very quiet) music, which was so beautifully atmospheric and then Kay sent me a copy for Christmas in 2012 so I had read this before. These are all lovely books but this one is my favourite.

 

On a purely aesthetic note they are gorgeous little copies and look great on the shelf!

These small hardback versions are around 57 pages long and are published by Picador.

(Read on 12 December 2013)

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060-2013-Dec-25-Bethlehem_zps41e9dfd3.jp
 

Bethlehem by Carol Ann Duffy

The ‘blurb’
Carol Ann Duffy’s wonderful new Christmas poem takes us to the little town of Bethlehem on a momentous night. This small hardback book contains more than twenty beautiful illustrations by Alice Stevenson, making it the perfect stocking-filler this Christmas.

Again, the ‘blurb’ says it all about this tiny book telling the story of Christmas. My daughter bought me this, the latest Christmas offering by Carol Ann Duffy to match the other four (although this one doesn’t have a white spine like the other four, which is a shame!). Duffy’s simple prose poem about the birth of Jesus is beautifully written.

The hardback edition is 48 pages long and is published by Picador. It was first published in 2013. The ISBN is 978 1447226123.

4½/5 (I really enjoyed it)

(Finished 25 December 2013)

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Janet

 It sounds like you made out well for Christmas . Lots of nice bookish gifts !  The pillow is very pretty and matches your chair perfectly .

 Good book total for the year too !

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Thanks, Julie.  :)

 

I'm desperately trying to catch up with my book reviews before I totally forget what happened in them!

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Yes, I'd be the same if I didn't do them as soon as I finish the book . I'd forget what it was about and not be able to write much about it .  The old brain isn't what it used to be !  :doh:

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I bought another two books today.  :blush:  That takes my total for physical books purchased this year up to a massive 54 - more than last year in total.   One of them I've already read loads of times (Rebecca), but I found a brand new copy for £1.50 so I thought I'd replace my old copy (although I do have a soft spot for its vintage style cover from the 70s - this one)...!

 

Rebecca_zps68a6fe0f.jpg

 

What a great book cover, I'm glad to hear you said you might be holding on to it anyways... :D I have to say, I have a few Finnish copies of du Maurier's books and they have those kinds of covers, too!

 

 

I have yet to read one of his novels for adults - maybe I'll read Shadow of the Wind in 2014? 

 

I would strongly recommend it! It's one of my all time favorites, it's in my top 10 books :smile2:

 

 

Yes it is, I've had it on my shelf for ages, I really must get around to it soon!

Mine too.  I really enjoyed Shadow Of The Wind so i don't really know why i haven't got round to reading this yet 

 

Me, three! :blush: What's wrong with us!! :unsure:

 

 

I haven't been able to post my Christmas presents yet as I've been on my mobile. I'm on my tablet now (which to be honest I'm not much quicker with!).

 

From the lovely Kay I got George Orwell: A Life in Letters, which I am thrilled with! She also bought me a DVD called Prancer which I haven't seen before and some yummy chocs. Thanks, Kay.

 

A good friend gave me Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

 

My daughter got me Bethlehem by Carol Ann Duffy.

 

My Mum gave me an Amazon voucher, The Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman and made me a gorgeous Matilda cushion for my reading chair.

 

My son gave me a Waterstone's voucher.

 

I'm a very lucky girl.

 

Great presents, you lucky gal! :smile2: And I love the Matilda cushion, and the reading chair, too! I think they go beautifully together! :smile2:

 

And now you have a copy of Shadow of the Wind, so there are no excuses... :lol:

 

My review of The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper can be found here.

 

Two more 2013 reviews to write...!

 

Wohoo, just a little bit more and then.... Bye bye 2013! (You read a lot of books last year, wow!)

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What a great book cover, I'm glad to hear you said you might be holding on to it anyways... :D I have to say, I have a few Finnish copies of du Maurier's books and they have those kinds of covers, too!

Yes, I just can't bring myself to part with it.  :)  Lovely that you have some too - I haven't seen any other of her books with those covers.

 

I would strongly recommend it! It's one of my all time favorites, it's in my top 10 books :smile2:

And now you have a copy of Shadow of the Wind, so there are no excuses... :lol:

No, no excuse now!   Apart from fitting it in, that is, but I will endeavour to do so before too long. 

 

Great presents, you lucky gal! :smile2: And I love the Matilda cushion, and the reading chair, too! I think they go beautifully together! :smile2:

Thanks. I love it too.  I'm lucky to have such a clever Mum. :)

 

Wohoo, just a little bit more and then.... Bye bye 2013! (You read a lot of books last year, wow!)

I've just written my penultimate one of 2013. One more to go...

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062-2013-Dec-31-SantaandPete_zps2eada278

Santa & Pete by Christopher Moore and Pamela Johnson

The ‘blurb’
Long, long ago Santa Claus had an African partner named Pete, who helped with the holiday rounds. Together the friends brought the spirit of Christmas to America's first settlers and shaped future celebrations of the holiday. But through the years Pete's contribution was forgotten.

Now "Santa & Pete" restores the legacy in a delightful story of hope and racial harmony as a grandfather passes the tale on to his grandson during the course of a snowy bus ride.


This was chosen as an alternative for our December Book Club. It didn’t win the vote, but I decided to read it anyway. I hadn’t heard of ‘Pete’ before until November when there was an article on the BBC about a protest in the Netherlands about the tradition of Zwarte Piet where people black their faces and pretend to be Santa’s black companion - a practice that some find distasteful - I have to see the idea doesn’t sit very well with me, but I don’t want to offend anyone - that’s just my opinion and I don’t really know the full story.

There appear to be various theories about the origin of Pete. In the introduction to this book we are told that Santa and Pete meet in prison where Pete is working as a cook and Santa has been arrested for spying. The two of them leave the prison, Santa escaping by magical means and rewarding Pete for his kindness towards him whilst he was captive by taking him along.

After the short introduction the story moves to modern Manhattan in the US where Terence recounts how when he was a child in the 1950s, his parents decided that he should learn more about his genealogy and so sent him each Saturday to join his Grandfather, a bus driver, on his bus, where Grandfather relates the tale of Santa and Pete. At first Terence resisted getting involved in the story and does not look forward to Saturdays on the bus, but as the story unfolds, and he witnesses the behaviour of the regular passengers on the bus and their interaction with his Grandfather, Terence starts to look forward to his Saturday mornings and when one day the passengers are caught in a snowstorm and trapped on the bus, they start to share their stories.

It’s a touching story and one that I enjoyed. It’s not my favourite Christmas story but I have no doubt that I shall read it again. The edition I have is a lovely, illustrated, hard-backed copy, but is currently out-of-print.

The hardback edition is 176 pages long and is published by Moore and Johnson. It was first published in 1998. The ISBN is 978 0684854953.

3/5 (I liked it)

(Finished 31 December 2013)

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063-2013-Dec-31-RockCrystal_zps690169bf.

Rock Crystal by Adalbert Stifter

The ‘blurb’
Seemingly the simplest of stories—a passing anecdote of village life—Rock Crystal opens up into a tale of almost unendurable suspense. This jewel-like novella by the writer that Thomas Mann praised as "one of the most extraordinary, the most enigmatic, the most secretly daring and the most strangely gripping narrators in world literature" is among the most unusual, moving, and memorable of Christmas stories.

Set in the Alps, this short novella tells of siblings Conrad and Sanna who leave their house on Christmas Eve in order to go and visit their grandparents in a neighbouring valley. They are warned to leave for the journey home whilst it is still daylight which they do, but as they are walking the snow comes thick and fast and soon the children are lost. They try hard to find their way but as the snow clears they discover they are on a glacier. As their family and the townsfolk frantically search for the missing children, Conrad and Sanna must keep their wits about them if they are to survive…

This is a very short book. It’s a simple tale - in fact, there isn’t really much of a story to it, but what made it enjoyable is the writing – his language is beautifully descriptive without being flowery and he really conveyed the feeling of cold that the children would have experienced on their escapade. Stifter is not an author I’ve come across before but wrote many novellas in his native German tongue. I’m glad this was chosen as our December book read - it was perfect for the month in terms of both storyline and length (December is always such a busy month!).

The paperback edition is just 76 pages long and is published by nyrb. It was first published in 1845 and translated into English in 1945. The ISBN is 9781590172858.

3½/5 (I enjoyed it)

(Finished 31 December 2013)

My last review of 2013!  :D  :doowapstart:


 

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Finally...

 

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW

(where applicable, last year’s totals in brackets)

Total books read – 63 (76)
Total pages read – 16,530 (18,082)
Average number of pages – 287 (246)

Fiction
– 43 (38)

Type – General fiction = 30 (30), Modern Classic = 0 (3), Classic = 7 (4), Short Stories 6 (1)

Non-fiction – 9 (13)

Type – Social History 1 (1), Travel = 1 (4), Memoir/Biography = 7 (7), Humour = 0 (1) Folk Tales 1 (0)


Children’s/YA –  10 (24)

Plays
– 1 (0)

Poetry – 0 (1)

~~~

Female authors – 35 = 55.6% (21 = 27.6%)
Male authors – 27 = 42.9 (55 = 72.4%)

Female/Male Collaboration 1 = 1.6% (0)

Authors new to me = 39 (39)

 

Multiple books by single author read:

5 books by Carol Ann Duffy (short reads)
3 books by Roald Dahl
2 by Mary Hooper

2 by Jane Austen
- the remainder were individual authors

 

1 Fantasy Challenge book

3 Dahl Challenge

3 Reading Circle

4 English Counties Challenge

8 World Challenge

10 Book Club (8 at meetings and 2 alternative choices also read but not discussed)

 

Country of birth of author
England = 30, USA = 8, India = 2, Wales = 3, Scotland = 5, Australia = 2
1 each from the following countries – Czech Republic, France, Greenland, Guernsey, Guyana, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, Zambia

 

Number of books per month
January - 3 Books (6)
February - 6 Books (10)
March - 7 Books (8)
April - 4 Books (4)
May - 7 Books (7)
June - 4 Books (7)
July - 4 Books (9)
August - 6 Books (2)
September - 4 Books (8)
October - 5 Books (4)
November - 4 Books (7)
December - 9 Books (4)

Score out of 5
1/5 = 0 books (2)
2/5 = 2 books (4)
2½/5 = 2 books (6)
3/5 = 15 books (11)
3½/5 = 11 books (9)
4/5 = 18 books (13)
4½/5 = 4 books (7)
5/5 = 11 books (24)
 

Shortest book was Wenceslas by Carol Ann Duffy (37 pages)

Longest was The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (849 pages)

 

The earliest in terms of publication date was Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, published in the 1500s and then Emma by Jane Austen, published in 1815. I read 6 published in 2013.

My years are too many to list individually, but broken down they are:


1700s – 0 (1)
1800s – 7 (4)
1900s – 25 (39)
2000s – 15 (14)
2010s – 15 (19)

Favourite reads (5/5) 11
(24):

 

The Séance by John Harwood 

Replay by Ken Grimwood          

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber   

The Cry by Helen FitzGerald  

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier    

My Uncle Silas by H E Bates  

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Emma by Jane Austen

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper    

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare      

The Christmas Truce by Carol Ann Duffy       

 

Least Favourite: 2/5 or under 2  (6)

 

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared  by Jonas Jonasson

Killer Twist (Ghostwriter Mystery #1) by C A Larmer

New books acquired 2013

 

66 (57) – including library books and gifts

Of these, number read = 36 (41)

 

Total cost of books acquired 2013 = £123.59 (£51.83)
Value if purchased from Amazon (prices as at day of purchase) = £360.03  (£280.19)

New books acquired include: 4 as gifts, 5 borrowed from friends, 9 came from charity shops or fund-raisers, 1 was bought with gift cards, 8 were bought for Book Club or the reading circle on BCF.co.uk (I like to annotate)


10 were Library books (10 borrowed in 2012)

 

13 books read on Kindle

2 read on Nook

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